$1.2 Million Verdict for Unnecessary Thyroid Surgery

On August 16, 2001, a Middlesex County jury awarded a Blume Donnelly client over $1.2 million for injuries sustained as a result of unnecessary thyroid surgery.

The client had undergone surgery of the thyroid for a condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is a non-cancerous condition typically treated by medication only. Her surgeon determined that she required surgery because of an enlarged thyroid that was alleged to have been causing gagging complaints and because of the possibility that the thyroid might be cancerous. However, multiple pre-operative tests were negative for any suspicion of cancer. In addition, a test within a month before surgery failed to show that the thyroid was large enough to be causing the gagging complaint. At surgery, the thyroid was removed and Ms. Richard’s right recurrent laryngeal nerve was injured, resulting in a permanent right vocal cord paresis. Review of the thyroid specimen after surgery revealed that its right lobe was only 2cms larger than a normal size thyroid lobe. It was argued that the surgery was unnecessary as the thyroid was not abnormally enlarged and that the pre-operative tests suggested that her symptoms were caused by something other than the thyroid. The client, who was 34 at the time and employed full-time as a telephone sales representative, has not been able to return to work because of right sided vocal cord paralysis which has caused a permanent change in her voice. The client was represented by Michael Zerres.